I can’t read so I’ll write.

There’s got to be something on my mind because I can’t concentrate on the book that I’m reading. It’s for class so I have to read it. I don’t really want to but have to. I want to. Enjoy it, really. I just don’t want to now.

Now, I’m hoping that she’ll come through the door. I’m hoping she’ll walk right in. I know she won’t, but that’s my deepest thought. And that’s what’s keeping me from concentrating on the book in my hand, lying on my bed glancing at my closed door that won’t open because there is no one else in my house, though, that’s all I want right now.

I just took a bath. It was the first bath I’ve taken it in a hell of a long time. It was spur-of-the-moment.

Like I said, I can’t read right now. I was in bed and I wanted to sleep but I looked over at the clock and it read 8:30, and that’s too early to sleep so I decided to take a bath. Baths are really depressing for me, if you want to know the truth. They remind me of suicide. Blood. I tried to make it relaxing though. I poured myself a glass of red wine. I had already been drinking but thought that I needed to relax some more.

A bath just wasn’t enough, so I played some music.

For some reason I wanted the most depressing music I could think of. Elliot Smith came to mind, his CD that I wanted to listen to I couldn't because I left in Albuquerque the last time I visited. Inside its case was a cloudy CD I didn’t recognize at first, but then recognized as the Mountain Goats, a real depressing title called Tennessee. I thought I’d lost Tennessee but had just misplaced it inside a CD case of which CD was misplaced in another place, that I’ll talk about later.

I played one of his others, though, Elliot Smith’s. I played Figure Eight. And that CD is depressing as all hell, but it invokes the wrong kind of memories that I was going for. So, I pushed eject and flung the disc across the room – fuck it. I took the cloudy CD out of the Tennessee case and put the whole player, CD and all, into the bathroom with me. If suicide was what I decided, this would be easy. I was kidding myself. I really just wanted to relax. My back hurt for what ever fucking reason. I hadn’t been doing anything and maybe that was the problem. I hurt my back lifting boxes in the warehouse of Borders months ago. I went to physical therapy. Was put on muscle relaxers, and was told by my doctor to take it easy. I could never. Didn’t, and pushed myself until I ended up quitting the job. I did what I did until I didn’t want to do it any longer. Not until I couldn’t do it any longer. So, my back is hurting like hell today, it started yesterday actually, but today I had the house to myself and wanted to take a bath. I just couldn’t relax and that may have had something to do with the back pain. It did earlier in the month.

Earlier in the month I had this tension in my upper back. I was just starting school, had quit my job at Borders, was working for a newspaper, and was trying to figure out, again, who I was. Over the summer I had been dating a girl. I met her at a party and talked to her, briefly, before I had to leave with some friends who were visiting me. I got her number before I left, not knowing anything but her first and last name, her area code and her phone number. I did some investigating and found out she was going to college at the end of summer, undergrad. After further review I found out she was going into her first year of undergrad and that made her 18. Shit, 18, I thought. That didn’t seem very old. And before I could think about how old I was at 18, and during which time I was thinking about the graduate program that I had applied to, we ended up going out on a date.

She didn’t seem like 18. She was catching on to things I was saying. Hell, I’m not all that smart or maybe she’s really smart. She did hide some of her ignorance in her silence. I did hide some of my maturity in jest. But besides the point, we were having a fun time, that first date, which carried into the night.

It's night now, and I'm alone. I feel more alone now than ever. It's not a lonely depressing thing, just one that I think of. It's empty though and in the emptiness I tend to think: fill up the glass. Or, fill up the air with music, or the tub with water.

By my house, we were at a party, when the 18-year old told me one thing I can’t ever forget. She said, I’ve never had sex before. I want to (with you) but not tonight because I’ve been drinking and want to remember it. Commendable I thought. Truly mature of her to say this to me. Or drunk of her to say this to me. I couldn’t decide. I did decide to take her home with me. To make sure she was safe. And in my bed we slept together, and not in the sexual sense like you are thinking, but in the physical, biological sense of which people actually rest during the night in preparation for the morning and next day. We woke, fully clothed and still smiling at one another and not knowing what to say. So we smiled, which seemed easy at the time. We ended up going to breakfast, laughing about this and that. It was harmless.

I think about her as my bath water is nearly to the level which is soakable. It’s high enough for me to rinse the tub, so I do. I let the water out and let it drain all the way to clear out whatever invisible particles might be gathering. I’ve put Tennessee on the CD player and am looking for a way to relax more. I take another drink of the red wine I’ve bought and remember Monkey Fist.

Monkey Fist is what I call the tension in my back. One of the reasons I’m taking the bath. I told a number of friends Monkey Fist and they looked at me weird. Called me weird, even. I further described the feeling that I was feeling as that of a monkey's fist. See, there’s a monkey sized fist inbetween my shoulder blades. He keeps it there all day, twisting and turning and punching and knuckling. I don’t know why the monkey has his fist there. For the most part it is impossible to tell why. But it’s there. Where the neck meets the spine, the monkey's fist meets my back. And lately, he’s gone away, but always he comes back. Today he's slept in, but again, the back pain from my lifting days has come back to haunt me, and I think the Monkey Fist has something to do with it but I can’t figure out what.

The water has filled up. I have fresh glass of wine. The music is playing. I’ve found some incense, which I’m not really into but have located in the empty bedroom of my house. It will create ora, I think, and will help me relax to the point that I’ll be able to enjoy this bath enough to clear my head and think of it as a relaxing venture of time and not one in which I associate with suicide.

It’s hot enough, I tell you. And if you ask any male who grew up taking bathes or takes them still he’ll tell you one thing: shield. You’ve got to shield if you know anything about testicles, hot water, and washcloths. They all relate and play an intrical part in the bath process, which happens so rarely with men these days but has and does to the extent that shielding is a culture and like I said, is common enough for you to ask the one you’re with if he knows anything about the practice. You should get some reaction and if you don’t you can’t blame me. For if he’s not all that familiar he should be and if you both want kids, or want to teach your kids anything about protecting his junk you should do so. I know my dad did.

So I shield and make sure my wine is within grasp. The Mountain Goats are singing about what it’s like to break up and I automatically think of her. But now know, not think, that she’d not walking in on me. It’s not like I want to think of her but I guess I do because I put myself here. Am in the depressing tub, am taking a depressant, put on the CD that will make me think of her, but still, am trying to relax. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t try to counter the feelings I was having.

She’ll walk in, I think again. Will catch me here listening to this. Will sit on the toilet seat, pour her own glass of wine. I’ll be so relaxed I’ll be able to speak my mind and she her’s. We’ll work this out. I know we will. It’s hot but that’s okay. I feel the heat working on my back, making it feel more relaxed. My nuts don’t hurt. I’ve protected them, at least made them aware of the environment they’re submerged in. They’re fine, yes. The sound is seeping into my skin. The scent I smell is fine, and I associate it with relaxation. The wine tastes good, I’m dizzy. I cup my hand in the water and put the heat over my face. It feels good, a rebirth.

Water to me has always been that of rebirth. It’s cliché, but one that I’ve put in my pocket and kept for my own. Shower after shower a new day starts. Swim, submerge, hot springs replenish. It’s like I’ve been baptized every time, as I think of it.

Ahh, oooh, back in the womb.

Go to the coast, into the ocean. So cold. But submerge yourself in the salty water and feel alive again. Born.

And I’m back. My eyes open and it’s hot. Too hot. My body is relaxed but I’m no longer comfortable. I’m fine, though, just need to get out.

The CD is almost over, the incense is half way burned. I’m threw. That’s good. Thank you. And, whew.

I get out of the tub and should salve myself but don’t. Instead, I stagger to my bedroom, leaving on the rest of the CD, I put out the incense. I pull a towel from my closet and lay it over my bed as I lie down naked and wet and tired. I close my eyes and listen to the rest of the Mountain Goats CD. I want to dry out.

I turn on my reading light and want to read but can’t. I can’t concentrate on the letters that form words, that form sentences and main ideas. I’m lost in a story. Don’t know what’s going on. Can’t think. So I drink some more and then think that’s the problem as I pour some more.

Shit.

And so I write and type because I can’t read, which doesn’t make sense because reading is what got me here. So did thinking, and, then when I think about it, tonight, so did drinking.

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